WHO WE ARE
In 2011, a group of twenty-five Bowdoinham citizens, including farmers, local business owners, and current and former Selectboard members (in their personal capacities), got together to discuss how they might help the town build on existing assets - a burgeoning group of young farmers committed to sustainable agriculture, a vibrant arts scene, a long history of an eclectic population united by a strong sense of community, a location on Merrymeeting Bay midway between four key Maine cities - to make Bowdoinham an even better place to live and work. What emerged from these conversations is BCDI.
The plan for BCDI was to start small, based on the needs and interest of community members. In an incremental way, it established the capacity to provide capital, and to incubate and operate these mutual benefit enterprises. The starting point was food: farms and the farmers that run them, processing and distribution, and the land that supports them. Its first initiative was a community-based loan to support the expansion of a small farm through the purchase of a used tractor.
BCDI was officially founded in June of 2012, and in October of 2013, BCDI became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and established the capacity to provide local capital to address local needs by creating a system for local investment - “Neighbors Investing In Neighbors”. The amount of a BCDI loan may be a minimum of $500 and maximum of $20,000. Loans are very low interest (3%) and short term; repayment is expected between 12 and 36 months after disbursement. The repayment schedule is flexible and is tailored to meet the specific needs and capacities of the beneficiary. The BCDI loan program is designed to meet the needs of businesses that are unable to obtain a low-cost loan through traditional lending institutions for reasons such as insufficient credit history. Since 2012, BCDI has granted nearly $100,000 in loans. Going forward, BCDI loans and other activities will continue to be aimed at supporting farmers and other local businesses. The focus of our efforts depends largely on the needs of the businesses in Bowdoinham – BCDI aims to be resource-ready and able to respond to the community needs.
In addition to the loan program, BCDI has been working to connect the expanding Bowdoinham farming community with the Merrymeeting Food Council (a program of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and other partners) and those interested in helping increase the availability and consumption of quality local food. BCDI has been an active participant on the Merrymeeting Food Council Steering Committee, and relationships have been strengthened with CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems; Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS); Vital Connections; Slow Money Maine; Friends of Mid-Coast Maine; Land for Good; and numerous individuals working on related projects in the Mid-coast region.
Spurred by a Sewall grant in 2016 and an associated Strategic Plan, BCDI’s reach has extended into community growth and development, and we hosted two very successful "Village Community Conversations" in 2017 focused on revitalizing Bowdoinham's Village area. BCDI’s financial position was further strengthened in 2016 by grants from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Bowdoin Common Good, and Maine Community Foundation.
SOME OF What We've Achieved
Disbursed nearly $100,000 in loans through out Neighbors Investing In Neighbors Loan Program
150 people make up BCDI's membership
Registered with the State of Maine as a Non-Profit Corporation
Established a Board of Directors (Currently Kathy Montejo, Chair; Rachel Murphy, Treasurer; Andy Cutko, David Engler, Sean Hagan, Linda Jariz, Michael Mahan, Mary Mayo, Atlee Reilly )
Adopted basic institutional documents (Vision and Mission Statement, Bylaws, Conflict of Interest Policy, Confidentiality Policy, banking and accounting procedures)
Established Communications tools (Email, Website, Social Media Pages)
Applied for and received 501(c)(3) status with the IRS
Established a tiered fee process for Membership in BCDI
Established process and criteria for accepting and vetting loan applications and funding them through support from members of the community
Hired a part-time contracted Coordinator
Developed and maintained good working relationships with the Town Manager and Community and Economic Development Office, the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC), Merrymeeting Arts Center (MAC), KELT-BTLT, the Merrymeeting Food Council, and numerous farms and businesses in town.